Black Swan

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We went to see Black Swan last week. I really enjoyed it. It’s an old fashioned Polanski-esque psychological thriller/ melodrama. A bit like Repulsion meets The Red Shoes.

Natalie Portman gives an amazing performance as Nina, an uptight ballerina from the ensemble who’s given her chance at the big time, when Vincent Cassel – the Lermentov style director, offers her the lead in his new production of Swan Lake. But can she stand the psychological pressure from her overbearing director and crazy mother and the sabotage from her sexy rival ( Mila Kunis).

If this makes it sound a bit soapy, it really isn’t, but it is pretty melodramatic and could have easily tipped over into the ridiculous, which I think it manages to avoid. It’s a beautifully shot movie dark and claustrophobic in tone. It’s full of weird paranoia and visual and aural representation of the torture ballet dancers go through for a part. The whole film is from Nina’s point of view, very subjective and first person, which I love and is a very hard thing to pull of narratively.

Darren Arnofsky’s sure footed direction keeps things on a tight course and the script, keeps the twists coming and doesn’t descend into the third act silliness I thought it might.

Nathalie Portman trained for a year for the part and her dedication really shows through. Some people have said her character is a bit wet and old fashioned, and I can see there is a case for this. The archetype rivalry  of the virgin and the whore, play this up too. But this is all to reflect and weave in elements and themes from the ballet.

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